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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Body Appreciation Sunday: Clay

As everyone knows, I love Wonder Woman. She is my favorite superpowered heroine, and I was very happy that DC gave her such a great creative line-up in the relaunch. Cliff Chiang and Brian Azzarello are doing a wonderful job with her series: beautiful art, smart, mythology-laden storytelling. I love it.

I do not love the decision to change Diana's origin from her being created out of clay by her mother Hippolyta and given life and talents by the goddesses, to being the product of Zeus and Hippolyta. Zeus has enough goddamn children, divine and mortal, and though we're probably supposed to helpfully forget this, Zeus in the past has attempted to molest Diana. Creepy! That particular plot point is simply uninteresting to me, having been told a thousand times over, and since I don't think Azzarello has ever written an uninteresting thing in his illustrious career, I will blame editorial fiat.
(Diana's birth, from Gods and Mortals)

There is a more personal level to my distaste for this development as well. Even before I read comics heavily I related to Wonder Woman; she was a beacon of peace, progress, diplomacy, and love, she was strong and reliant on herself, and--bonus--she had the same name as me. As I began reading her stories, I loved that she was created by women--her mother and a slew of talented, beautiful goddesses gave this heroine life and power and purpose. I began to relate even more to the Amazon, as someone also raised solely by a mother. In effect I have no father, my biological father dying when I was two and having no relationship of any kind with my stepfather later on. I enjoyed the bond of mother and daughter between Diana and Hippolyta and I liked that the Amazon community valued women's relationships, because news flash: American society does not value women's relationships. Sisters, mothers and daughters, grandmothers and aunts, and closest female friends are not as important as the Very Significant male/female romantic relationship; families raised and led by single mothers or grandmothers raising their grandchildren are not "real" families (according to some idiotic and prominent political figures); and lesbians are outliers who simply haven't been laid properly. Women are largely not perceived as being able to protect themselves or one another--that must be done by a male figure, a hero.

Diana the Amazon was the encapsulation of everything I thought female relationships could and should be. She is still magical and marvelous and truly wonderful, and I'll never stop reading her stories. But this change is the one that has hit me hardest, in the most personal way, out of all the many changes DC wrought this past autumn. My name is Diana and I was formed of clay from my mother's hands, brought to life by her love and the stories she and the other women of my family gave me. In my best moments I am their image and legacy and in my worst, I'm still me.

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